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February 27, 2017

NFL Combine preview: Center prospects who could interest the Eagles

Eagles NFL

The NFL Combine will kick off in Indianapolis this week, so we'll begin taking a look at some participants at each positional group every day. In case you missed our previous positional previews:

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends
Offensive tackles | Guards

Today, we'll look at centers.

Is center a need?

Nope, but that doesn't mean the Eagles won't consider one in the draft. As we noted when we covered the guards, with the Eagles almost certain to free up a significant amount of cap space, players like Jason Kelce and Allen Barbre could be on the move. Additionally, it is expected that Stefen Wisniewski will walk in free agency. That will open up some holes along the interior of the Eagles' offensive line. 

If Kelce is indeed among the cuts/trades, second year pro Isaac Seumalo would be an obvious replacement at center, but the Eagles will need to find help at guard. Alternatively, because Seumalo is such a versatile player, the Eagles also have the option of just drafting a center to replace Kelce, with Seumalo just staying put at guard. In other words, Seumalo's versatility opens up more options for the Eagles in the draft.

Here are three centers that we think make sense for the Eagles:

Pat Elflein, Ohio State (6'3, 300)

At 6'3, 300, Elflein has ideal size for a center. He's mean and nasty to opponents and widely regarded as a leader in the locker room. He also possesses the positional flexibility that Doug Pederson values. At Ohio State, Elflein played both guard spots in his sophomore and junior seasons, and center as a senior.

Ethan Pocic, LSU (6'6, 307)

Pocic is among the top center prospects in this draft with the versatility to also play guard, and even some tackle. At 6'6, 307, he is much bigger than Jason Kelce, but is not as athletic. Because of his "heighth," Pocic will face some of the same problems as Kelce, in that he can be pushed back into the pocket by bulky, stronger nose tackles. Kelce is pushed back because he's small for a center, while Pocic's tall frame works against him at times, leverage-wise.

Still, Pocic is a guy who can play all five positions along the line, like Seumalo, which means that he is going to get some attention from the Eagles.

Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia (6'3, 292)

The Eagles love Kelce's smarts and have credited him with making life easier on Carson Wentz by making correct line calls. One player who can be an out-of-the-box replacement is Orlosky, who is widely praised for his smarts and toughness. A season ago, Wendell Smallwood led the country with 58 rushes of 10+ yards. A lot of those runs were right up the middle behind Orlosky. 

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